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The Adventures of Augie March (Penguin Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Saul Bellow
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The great novel of the American dream, of "the Universal eligibility to be noble," Saul Bellow's third book charts the picaresque journey of one schemer, chancer, romantic, and holy fool: Augie March. Awarded the National Book Award in 1953, The Adventures of Augie March remains one of the classics of American literature.

The child of Jewish immigrants, reared in Chicago during the Great Depression, Augie sets off in search of reality, fulfillment, and most importantly, love. As he travels from the depths of poverty to the peaks of worldly success, Augie stands as an irresistible, poignant incarnation of the American idea of freedom. Written in the cascades of brilliant, biting, ravishing prose that would come to be known as "Bellovian," The Adventures of Augie March re-wrote the language of Saul Bellow's generation.

Editorial Reviews


Novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1953. It is a picaresque story of a poor Jewish youth from Chicago, his progress, sometimes highly comic, through the world of the 20th century, and his attempts to make sense of it. The Adventures of Augie March won the National Book Award in 1954. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

From the Inside Flap

Introduction by Martin Amis

Product Details

  • File Size: 978 KB
  • Print Length: 546 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0140189416
  • Publisher: Odyssey Editions; Revised edition (July 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,937 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
116 of 127 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
For what has been widely described as both a picaresque and coming-of-age novel, Augie March is neither a quick read nor an easy one. Okay, there's no rule that requires novels in these categories to be either. But still and all, one somehow feels uneasy, given the various changes in locale and steady aging of the protagonist, that Bellow (or Augie) so steadfastly refuses to get on with it already.
Much of the novel is rendered in a convoluted narrative style-Augie's voice-that may be termed ornate. Or off-putting. Or ornately off-putting. Intended to echo, presumably, the Yiddish, German and Russian speech patterns Augie grows up hearing in Chicago during the twenties and thirties, this narrative device may in fact do that; but its syntactical wanderings soon begin to remind one, whatever their authenticity, of the criticism once leveled at Henry Luce's beloved Timestyle: "Backward ran the sentences until reeled the mind." Lexicon also figures in the curious mix, as words are combined in unexpected ways-sometimes cleverly (and with a kind of mini-revelation effect: you mean you can say that?) but just as often, apparently, randomly--just for the heck of it. Augie likes to talk (write), and what comes out, comes out:
"Many repeated pressures with the same effect as one strong blow, that was [Einhorn's] method, he said, and it was his special pride that he knew how to use the means contributed by the age to connive as ably as anyone else; when in a not so advanced time he'd have been mummy-handled in a hut or somebody might have had to help him be a beggar in front of a church, the next thing to a memento mori or, more awful, a reminder of what difficulties there were before you could even become dead."
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody Makes It Through Life Alive September 28, 2004
When I was a kid, some of my classmates already knew what they wanted to be. They marched in a straight line towards the goal. I, however, never knew what I wanted to do. I liked studying, but had no vision of a future. I drifted along and climbed into whatever boats came within reach. Augie March is a young Chicagoan from a broken home, who drifts with the tides as well, in the period 1927-1947. He winds up smuggling illegal immigrants, stealing books, travelling to Mexico, trying to train an eagle to catch iguanas, and playing poker. After a few good, bad and indifferent experiences with women, he joins the Merchant Marine during World War II, gets married to a would-be actress, and survives a ship torpedoing. When we leave Augie, he's making illegal business deals in Europe. Has he ever made a really conscious decision ? It's not clear. Bellow's novel is full of humor, philosophy, and insights on life. For example, on page 305 --"But I had the idea also that you don't take so wide a stand that it makes a human life impossible, nor try to bring together irreconciliables that destroy you, but try out what of human you can live with first."

THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH is an almost endless literary parade of portraits, of weird and wonderful characters from many walks of life. It's like a pilgrimage back in time to another America, another age---perhaps more innocent in some respects, but not so smooth, not so well-rounded, a thrusting, struggling America where raw money power arbited so much. Even though the book could have been cut down a bit here and there because 617 pages is overlong, Bellow's novel will remain a classic of American and world fiction for two reasons. First, because human nature scarcely changes.
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83 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A literary masterpiece May 15, 1999
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel is unquestionably one of the great masterpieces of our time.

Saul Bellow paints portraits of characters like Rembrandt. He has a brilliant technique for divulging not only the physical nuances of his characters but also gets deep into the essence of their souls.

He has an astute grasp of motivation and spins a complex tale with an ease that astounds. Even the most unusual twists of fate seem natural and authentic.

Augie is a man "in search of a worthwhile fate." After struggling at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs as a penniless youth in Chicago, he ultimately discovers that alignment with the "axial lines" of his existence is the secret to human fulfillment.

While his brother is engrossed in chasing after financial enrichment and social esteem, Augie learns through his own striving that such pursuit is "merely clownery hiding tragedy."

Augie is a man dogged in his pursuit of the American dream who has an epiphany that the riches that life has to offer lie in the secrets at the heart's core. If, as Sartre says, life is the search for meaning, then Augie is the inspired champion of this great human quest.

The true test of a great book is that you wish it would never end. Fortunately, Saul Bellow is as prolific as he is brilliant and there is much more to explore.

Bellow is worthy of the characterization of one of America's best living novelists: he is a treasure. His wisdom staggers the imagination.

Don't let this novel pass you by!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
This book dragged on forever. Overrated
Published 12 days ago by Patrick M
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writer, good book
This was the first book that I read by one of this country's most respected writers. While some passages including the ending were poorly conceived and lacked the rest of book's... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Quinton Fox
4.0 out of 5 stars Bellow at his best.
This is a minor masterpiece that no one talks about. The writing is bursting with energy and the era-- early 20th Century America-- is captured vividly.
Published 1 month ago by Len Rubin
4.0 out of 5 stars Overrated
He turns many an interesting phrase, but it drags on a bit. lots of color into this time and age, but the great American novel, no way
Published 3 months ago by William Hoover
3.0 out of 5 stars A slog
Have read others by Bellow. This story had interesting passages but generally was a slog for me. Some of his diversions were almost incomprehensible and irrelevant to the story... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Richard W. Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars There's a Great Story in here Somewhere...
I know The Adventures of Augie March has many champions, but I'm not one of them.

This is a long slog through the life of the titular character, from his boyhood in the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by M. Buzalka
2.0 out of 5 stars A story overcooked
Sentences are too long, demanding readers prolonged attention. Insertion of many names and historical events seems to give an allusion of the writers superknowledge more than what... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Harlan Sutandi
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel from the past
Even though it was written years ago, the great writer Saul Bellow still has the ability to draw one into his web as a story teller. Read more
Published 7 months ago by William Weitzel
3.0 out of 5 stars The book, she take a siesta.
I've been slogging through this novel for months.

Have always enjoyed Bellow's work, but have long put off reading what struck me at a glance as a dull, traditional... Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. Figler
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but maybe read something else by Bellow first
I wanted to love this book because I thought Ravelstein and Herzog were great, but Augie March was a bit tedious for me. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Kyle
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More About the Author

Saul Bellow won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel HUMBOLDT'S GIFT in 1975, and in 1976 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 'for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work.' He is the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards, for THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH, HERZOG, and MR. SAMMLER'S PLANET

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